Q&A With Nichelle Holder, BRICK Education Network’s Chief Program Officer

Insight from a Black leader on Thurgood Marshall, Black History Month and BRICK's mission for equity

February 15, 2023
2 min
Q: Who is a Black leader that you admire?

A: One of my Black heroes is The Honorable Thurgood Marshall because he fought to dismantle segregation.   He used existing laws to defeat racial discrimination.  He understood the importance of establishing federal laws to drive change.  As we honor the life and legacy of this great leader, I encourage all of us to use our vote to push for needed policy changes and federal laws at all levels – local and national.

Q: What does Black History Month mean to you?

A: Black History Month is an opportunity to honor and celebrate the achievements of Black leaders/changemakers and to recognize their contributions throughout history.  However, I’m not a fan of relegating the accomplishments and contributions of Black People to 28 days out of the year.   We are more than a month —Black History is American History and should not be separated or labeled as other or different.  For example, we should not celebrate or honor Thomas Edison without Lewis Latimer.

Q: How does the work that you do at BRICK support Black children & families?

A: At BRICK, we are redefining what it takes to educate Black and Brown students, so they are prepared to solve the world’s next biggest challenges.  To be a changemaker, you need to be confident and have pride in your identity, have emotional intelligence,  academic aptitude, and empathy.

My team is charged with creating an ecosystem of support and partnering with other organizations to ensure that Black and Brown students and families have access to needed support and resources, ensuring they have every opportunity to thrive.  To create an environment where children succeed, families and caregivers must have access to the following: hyper-local quality healthcare (mental and physical), quality housing, safe neighborhoods, and communities, the ability to access pathways to economic mobility, quality early childhood centers, and school options.   We support families in addressing system-level challenges and removing barriers that impede their ability to realize their dreams and desires for their children.

Q: How has your experience at BRICK helped to shape your experience as a Black leader?

A: In my role as the Chief Program Officer, I have access to diverse stakeholders and influencers, and it’s my responsibility to be the voice of my community and to advocate for system-level changes.  BRICK creates the space to disrupt systems that have failed Black, Brown, and marginalized individuals for decades.  We create space to have courageous conversations and opportunities to lead and drive change.

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